Teach This Poem: "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus
Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.
“Immigrant family looking for lost baggage, Ellis Island," Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940). Date: 1905. Medium: photograph. Dimensions: 9 1/2 X 7 inches. Credit: Romana Javitz Collection; transferred from the Picture Collection, 1991. digitalcollections.nypl.org
- Show your students the photograph “Immigrant family looking for lost baggage, Ellis Island.” Ask them to write down what they see. If they give you an interpretation—e.g. the people look fearful—ask them to identify what in the photo shows you the people look fearful. They should write down their evidence. Next, have them turn and talk with a partner about what they see.
- Have your students get into groups of four. Ask them to read “The New Colossus” aloud to each other. Make sure at least two people read in each group. Ask the listeners to read along with the text of the poem and circle the words that jump out at them, either because they seem important or because they don’t know what they mean.
- Have a class discussion about what the poem is saying to new immigrants. What important words does it use to say this? How do the photograph and the poem relate to each other? What is the New Colossus?